The Low Carbon Partnership

Polycrystalline PV cells

PolyCrystaline PV

Polycrystalline PV cells are manufactured from multicrystalline silicon. They are easier and cheaper to make, but efficiency is reduced to around 14%.

This type of PV is sometimes called ‘multi-crystalline’ or ‘semi-crystalline’.

Monocrystalline PV cells

Monocrystaline PV Cell

Most solar PV cells are manufactured using silicon. High efficiencies of 17% are possible using very pure monocrystalline silicon but prices can be high.

A lower grade of silicon – ‘solar grade’ – which is less pure and less costly is often used with little reduction in efficiency

Thin film PV cells

Thin Film Cell

Developments of thin film silicon – 'amorphous silicon' (a-Si) – mean it is now possible to produce both rigid and flexible a-Si PV modules. Manufacturing is cheaper and less energy intensive but efficiencies are generally lower and can degrade rapidly.

Non-silicon thin film PV products often do better, achieving more stable efficiencies of over 10%.

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